Tag Archive: 1980s nostalgia


Review by C.J. Bunce

Not many books give you goosebumps as they take you back to a moment in time.  How do you create not only a new game, but a new industry?  Your next time travel adventure needs to be Arjan Terpstra and Tim Lapetino’s giant look back at not only Pac-Man but the rise of video games.  It’s Pac-Man: Birth of an Icon, simply an incredible, deep dive into the development of the video game and all its incarnations from its beginnings as Puck-Man, almost called Paku-emon (sound familiar?).  From development via pinball, coin-op, and theme park companies Namco, Bally, and Midway (and side-dances with Atari), fans of 1970s and 1980s nostalgia will see how a few key players in Japan created Pac-Man, and even more around the world expanded it into an icon–all out of 111 yellow flashes of light on a computer screen.  The giant book is full of vintage photographs, marketing materials, corporate and engineering design notes, and much more.  Pac-Man: Birth of an Icon might be the best video game history yet, and it’s now available here at Amazon.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

After pandemic delays and 32 years since the story left off, Ghostbusters: Afterlife finally arrived on home streaming platforms this past week.  Not only is it a worthy follow-on to the first two 1980s films, it’s thoughtful and nostalgic in the same way as a vintage Steven Spielberg supernatural adventure (think E.T. or Close Encounters or Super 8).  It provides something for all its potential audiences: fans of the original films, fans of the animated series, and anyone young or old looking for a mild, enjoyable family film.  It balances many things well: first and foremost the real-life death of original Ghostbuster player writer/creator and comedy master Harold Ramis, the need to bring back past characters in a way that is believable and even heartwarming, something for 21st century kids to find some fun with, and a horror comedy someone with no background in the franchise could just step into.  That last part is helped by the addition of the always amiable and relatable Paul Rudd as a scientist and teacher in the story’s improbable setting of rural Oklahoma, and the successful casting of kid actors who can hold their own against everything else going on.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Following up on The Toys That Made Us (previously reviewed here at borg), Netflix’s surprise hit documentary series leaning on viewers’ nostalgia with a look behind toys of the past, in 2019 the streaming service added a new series based on the same formula, The Movies That Made Us.  The series took a new look at four movies in four hour-long episodes in its first season, including Die Hard, Ghostbusters, Home Alone, and Dirty Dancing, followed by two holiday episodes featuring Elf and A Nightmare Before Christmas.  The Movies That Made Us isn’t really about the movies and their impact so much as what strange stories lie behind how the movies were created, from idea to release, including production foibles and hurdles.  The show is trying to appeal to a broad spectrum of viewers, and it’s done it again with four new installments for its second season, featuring Back to the Future, Pretty Woman, Jurassic Park, and Forrest GumpAnd new episodes are on their way featuring Aliens, Coming to America, and RoboCop, and October staples A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th,and Halloween.

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Fantasies rarely play out as you would expect.  — Mr. Roarke

Blumhouse introduced a new twist on the 1977-1984 series Fantasy Island in 2020 with a feature film version starring Michael Peña  (Ant-Man), leaning into a darker, horror take on its story. ABC tried a reboot in 1998, starring Malcolm McDowell (Star Trek: Generations, Heroes). This week a new series emerges on Fox, entirely separate (or is it?) from the 2020 movie, but landing a perfect opener that is perfectly faithful to Ricardo Montalban’s classic weekly anthology showcase, an episode that would qualify among the top of the original series’ best stories.  This time it’s the talented Roselyn Sanchez (Without a Trace, Kojak, Dragnet, Telenovela, Rush Hour 2), whose beauty, charisma, and talent are more than worthy of her iconic, suave, Latin predecessor.  Miss Elena Roarke is not a descendant of Mr. Roarke, but a great niece of the former ambassador of the island.  The update is as much homage as sequel, a fine balance that miraculously gets it all right, with an updated feel that is modern and even fun, like the long-running BBC series Death in Paradise (which follows a fish-out-of-water detective and his staff on another island paradise also encountering newcomers aka guest stars in each new episode).  As with Montalban’s Fantasy Island, character actors from television’s past, present, and maybe even future, should all be scrabbling to get a part on this new incarnation of the series.

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Ghostbusters novelization

Review by C.J. Bunce

The most eagerly awaited movie of 2021 is also the most eagerly awaited movie of 2020.  That’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife, a direct sequel to Ghostbusters I and 2, slated for release in theaters November 11, 2021, after multiple delays.  Will it actually happen?  Who knows.  But while you’re waiting, you can get your fix of those days of Ghostbusters past while you’re at the beach, soaking in the sun with the original novelizations thanks to a new reprint combo from Titan Books, Ghostbusters: The Original Novelizations of Ghostbusters 1 and 2.  For anyone who has only watched the movies, you can gain a little more insight to the characters, many who will be back in the new movie.

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Bustin’ makes me feel good.

The most exciting movie of the year now has tie-in toys, and an early look at the toys appears to telegraph the return of three original Ghostbusters donning their garb again.  That’s Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and Ernie Hudson, clearly featured as part of several toys coming from Hasbro and other brands for Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

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Hasbro is offering a line of line up higher end figures, the Plasma Series (available here for pre-order now) featuring characters from the 2021 film, including Trevor, Lucky, Podcast, Peter, Winston, and Ray.

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Check out more new Ghostbusters: Afterlife toys, including a new Clue below…

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The kids aren’t all right because they released something vile from this old well…

The most exciting trailer this year comes from a film Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray have been interviewed about since Ghostbusters II.  Taking a cue from Halloween, Predator, and Terminator, the franchise did some skipping of reboots and made Ghostbusters: Afterlife a direct sequel to Ghostbusters II.  The lead role is for Mckenna Grace, who has appeared in lots of genre films and shows (Ready Player One, Independence Day: Resurgence, Captain Marvel, and horror franchises: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Annabelle, Amityville, and Hill House).  In a nice nod to the late, great comedy writer and Ghostbusters co-star and writer Harold Ramis, Grace and Stranger Things co-star Finn Wolfhard (who wore his own Ghostbusters suit in his series) will play the grandkids of Ramis’s Dr. Egon Spengler.  Shifting to a prairie setting from the city, the tone feels more like the creepy and cool Stranger ThingsAnnie Potts’s return is refreshing in this trailer, along with (at least) the voice of Dan Aykroyd.

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Paul Rudd (Ant-Man) plays the grade school teacher, and the kids’ mom is played by Carrie Coon, who played the creepy antagonist in the second season of Sinner as well as in Thanos’ army in Avengers: Infinity War.  Plus Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Ernie Hudson, Gozer-everyone but Rick Moranis–have been confirmed for at least a cameo.  And there’s an El Camino and the return of the Ecto-1 with some extra features, and no doubt some animated series tie-ins and Easter eggs.  What more could you want?

Check out the new trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

If Chris Columbus and Steven Spielberg didn’t get paid for the screenplay for the new Netflix kids’ adventure movie Finding ‘Ohana, they should.  Usually an homage borrows bits and pieces from the source material.  Finding ‘Ohana is different–it is a remake (albeit unofficial remake) of the 1985 classic coming of age adventure The Goonies, updated to bring it into the 21st century and change the setting from Oregon to Hawaii.  ‘Ohana, which you’ll know from previous Hawaii-themed series and movies, means family, which reflects the film’s theme of Hawaiian culture and families reunited.  Ultimately the effort is a mixed bag–a movie that could be great fun for younger kids, but will make everyone else crave the movies it pulls its ideas from.

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Fantasies rarely play out as you would expect.  — Mr. Roarke

You could have guessed from the trailers that Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island would cross the original 1977-1984 series with Black Mirror, but could you have guessed it’s also a sort of mash-up with The Dark Crystal and The Hobbit?  Bloodshot, Kick-Ass 2, and Bates Motel writer Jeff Wadlow directs an unexpected twist on the original series, proving such a reboot that respects the source material and takes advantage of a big movie budget can be successful, even without original show staples like Ricardo Montalban and Hervé Villechaize.  One of the stronger attempts and biggest successes at remaking a classic TV series, Fantasy Island is now streaming on Starz and other platforms.

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If you want to see how much the 1980s-inspired Stranger Things has worked itself into the 21st century zeitgeist, you need only turn to the last three big studio trailers revealed over the past three days.  Make no mistake, if Stranger Things isn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread it’s pretty close, full of fun characters and great riffs on some of our favorite bits of nostalgia.  So why shouldn’t everything and everyone try to get on the bandwagon?

The most exciting trailer comes from a film Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray have been interviewed about since Ghostbusters II.  Taking a cue from Halloween, Predator, and Terminator, the franchise is doing some skipping of reboots and making Ghostbusters: Afterlife a direct sequel to Ghostbusters II.  The lead role will be played by young (perfectly cast) Mckenna Grace, who has appeared in lots of genre films and shows (Ready Player One, Independence Day: Resurgence, Captain Marvel, and horror franchises: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Annabelle, Amityville, and Hill House).  In a nice nod to the late Ghostbusters co-star and writer Harold Ramis, she and Stranger Things co-star Finn Wolfhard (who wore his own Ghostbusters suit in his series) will play the grandkids of Ramis’s character, Dr. Egon Spengler.  Shifting to a prairie setting from the city, the tone feels more like the creepy and cool Netflix series in the first trailer, but it hints that slime-bearing apparitions we last saw in Manhattan will be showing their faces soon.  And a bonus: Paul Rudd (Ant-Man) plays the grade school teacher, and the kids’ mom is played by Carrie Coon (Avengers: Infinity War).  Plus Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts–everyone but Rick Moranis–have been confirmed for at least a cameo.  And there’s an El Camino and the return of the Ecto-1.  What more could you want?

 

Along with Ghostbusters: Afterlife are new trailers for Wonder Woman 1984 and Free Guy.  As you’d guess from the title, Wonder Woman 1984 is also looking back to the 1980s, complete with a big shopping mall action scene like we saw this summer in Stranger Things.  It looks like it’s trying to be a Marvel movie, complete with a World War-era soldier named Steve (Chris Pine) making his return from the past to co-star and Gal Gadot back in her title role, making an Iron Man entrance.  The movie has a comedic actor starring as a kooky villain (Kristen Wiig), making it look like we’re going to get another Superman III–yet another 1980s thing.  The third movie in our Stranger Things vibe is Free Guy, starring Ryan Reynolds in a spin on the lead character of the LEGO movies–here he is a video game character as in the 1980s nostalgia-filled Ready Player One, a non-player character who decides he wants to be the hero.  The movie co-stars the guy who plays our favorite character in Stranger Things, Joe Keery.  It doesn’t look like Tron, but we’ll take it.

Check out these trailers with a Stranger Things vibe for Ghostbusters: Afterlife, Wonder Woman 1984, and Free Guy:

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